As I think I’ve mentioned, I’m an old-school guy in a lot of ways. I like to draw, I like paper, I keep notes on pads and sketches in sketchbooks.
I also keep a clipboard with a quad-ruled pad on it, with all my projects and sub-projects listed in no particular order. I have a couple of different colored pens that I use to categorize projects into groups – large clients are in orange, one-offs or smaller projects in red, long-term or on-hold in green. Don’t ask me what any of that means – I just dig the colors.
But, what this list allows me to do is to touch on every project, every day.
So – the advice: Touch every client and project you have every day. There are a few reasons:
- It keeps the project fresh in your brain: That’s good, right?
- It keeps your clients apprised of what’s going on: They feel more important and in the loop.
- It keeps you honest: If you have 500 projects going, it will at the very least keep the lines of communication open and make you admit to your clients that you’re short on time. Even the most hardened and awful client you have will appreciate the honesty. There’s nothing worse than not communicating.
- It keeps you organized: You have a list. You can check that list off. That helps you (at least mentally) keep things in order
- It makes you look like a dynamo: Clients will feel like you’re constantly in motion. Even if you’re just sitting on your duff, spinning around in your desk chair and mumbling to yourself every day. And yes, I’m talking about myself.
- Send out an email with updates: Sketches, roughs, ideas are best. If nothing else, a short note on progress (or lack of).
- Ask a question of the client: That way, the ball is back in their court – which can either buy you time or help get the wheels in your brain rolling again. Don’t be stupid about it, and don’t do it as a way to avoid work.
- Open that project and look back through emails or communications from the past: It might spur new movement or ideas. It might remind you of something.
- Phone calls: Emails can be impersonal. If your client is one that likes calls, give them a jingle. Just say “hi” or “I’m working on your project” or “I’ve got to push this deliverable out a couple of days.”
- Reorganize the project: If you’ve got it in a folder on your desktop, open it up and shuffle it around. Again, it might spur something. At least you’re looking at it.